I have posted before about “Pink Bat“, a book by Michael McMillan, as well as the accompanying video. Recently, I came across another video by Mr. McMillan: “Paper Airplane: A Lesson for Flying Outside the Box”. This is a nostalgic look back to a time when innovation was embraced and putting a man on the moon was considered an achievement that could only be acquired by the utilizing the powerful combination of knowledge and creativity. “Paper Airplane” shows how important it is to let go of our preconceived notions, and to allow our ideas to soar past imagined boundaries.
This is a great video for teachers and parents to watch. Your students will also find it inspiring. I do suggest that you preview it before showing it to kids, as there is one small part (a cartoon bare bottom) that some might consider objectionable, depending on your audience.
I’m dusting off an old post from last December in which I offered a set of PDF’s that you could use to prompt some divergent thinking amongst your students. These sheets are based on the thinking tool, S.C.A.M.P.E.R., which I explain in my post, “S.C.A.M.P.E.R. the Holidays“. My 1st through 5th grade Gifted and Talented classes really enjoyed these last year. I’m at a new school this year, so I get to use them again! Also, if you happen to be looking for some other free holiday downloads, you might want to check out my post from last week on “Holiday QR Codes“.
UPDATE: You can see more student examples from S.C.A.M.P.E.R. the Holidays here. Also, you can also download some augmented reality holiday cards for your students here.
Shadow Move is a free app that I hate. I should probably confess that the apps that I hate are usually the ones that challenge me the most – quite often demanding some kind of spatial acuity that I seem to lack. Also in this category are the apps that become addictive, that I stay up late at night trying to problem solve my way through to the end. I have not stayed up late, yet, to work my way through Shadow Move. But the weekend is quickly approaching, and I foresee an evening spent trying to wrestle some shadows into submission.
The concept of Shadow Move is simple. Turn the object in the center until you can replicate the shadow pattern in the top left of the screen. Initially, many of the challenges seem impossible when one first views the object to be turned. But, rotating it slowly can usually help you to get an idea of what direction is optimal.
I was playing this app on my iPad at my daughter’s dance studio, and had three 10-year-old children watching over my shoulder, giving me advice on which way to turn the object. They asked me the name of the app several times so they could download it on their own devices when they went home.
Shadow Move is a great app for developing spatial and problem-solving skills, as well as perseverance. It reminds me a bit of Pictorial, another fun, spatial reasoning app. For other apps that I have recommended, you can click here for an archive of my posts on apps, or you can also visit my Pinterest boards.
As I was cyber searching for holiday gifts this weekend, I began to arrive at an unattractive conclusion. Despite all of our efforts to combat sexism, it is alive and well in our toy industry. My daughter had asked for some Nerf products for Christmas, and I was dismayed to see that, on many of the websites, these were labelled as “Gender: Boy”. Delving into the matter further, I noticed that many of the building or engineering toys I found were also given this label. In addition, even if the items were not categorized for a specific gender, the product descriptions often referred to “he” or “him” as the toy recipients, and usually had photos of boys playing with them.
According to this article in Atlantic, 90% of America’s engineers are male. This is no surprise to me, considering the enormous gender bias that we greet our children with from Day 1 of their infancy. In order to even the playing field, we need to seriously reconsider the preconceived notion that we, Americans, have about how boys and girls should play. As teachers and parents, we should offer our children all kinds of toys, despite gender bias, and without prejudicial language. And toy manufacturers and reviewers need to move on to the 21st century, where girls and boys should not be forced into traditional gender roles.
Debbie Sterling, creator of Goldie Blox, is trying to raise the number of female engineers by offering a new toy which combines a story with a set of pieces for construction. This unique approach to introducing girls to the joy of building things for a purpose is absolutely ingenious. According to Sterling, a Stanford graduate, she spent a year researching what features in this toy would appeal to girls. Then, through Kickstarter, Sterling raised the funding to produce her toy, and her website states that they are estimated to begin delivery in April of 2013.
Although I lament the fact that this toy will be gender-biased, albeit toward the female gender this time, I think that Goldie Blox is definitely taking a step in the right direction. Before we can completely stop color-coding our playthings for boys and girls, we will need to convince the majority of Americans to rectify our language and our subconscious decisions that lead our children to believe that only certain types of toys are appropriate for each gender. I hope that the press that Goldie Blox is receiving will begin a conversation in our country that might eventually lead to this toy revolution.
For those of you new to this blog, I am devoting Fridays during the holiday season to recommending “Gifts for the Gifted”. You can see the three posts that I have done so far here, here and here. You can also visit my Pinterest board on Games for Gifted Students. A lot of these are not just for gifted students, but would be appreciated by many children – and adults.
Today’s recommendation happens to be one that I have not tried, yet. But, I am ordering this kit for my 10-year-old daughter because it looks like the perfect combination of imagination and engineering. The Little Bits Holiday Kit retails for $49, and includes the following items:
A double sided instruction sheet with quick start guide and project suggestions
A custom-made 9V battery + cable
A 9V battery connector.
Custom plastic screwdriver
• light wire
• dc motor
• bright led
• wire x2
The list above does not really do the kit justice, however. There is so much potential in the various combinations of these parts, some of which is shown in the video below. And, if you have a child or group of students that might be interested, Little Bits is also offering a “What are You Making for the Holidays?” challenge with a deadline of December 11th. Inventors of any age are invited to submit sketches of a possible Little Bits design, and the winners will receive all of the parts to build their inventions.
If your child is interested in building, inventing, and designing, this could be a great gift to put under the tree!
I found out about this fabulous artist, Marta Altes, from the author of the blog, “This Sydney Life“. Like yesterday’s post, my resource is not categorized as an educational blog, but I immediately thought of classroom connections when I saw the artwork of Marta Altes. I love the whimsy and the simple, but unique, quality of her artwork. Displaying some of her pictures would be a great way to jumpstart some creative thinking in your classroom. If you have ever used the creative thinking tool, S.C.A.M.P.E.R., you might see this as a perfect example of “Put it to another use”. Can you imagine how some gifted students might run with this idea?